Land Bank looks at forest management of Crescent Beach Preserve

by Declan O’Malley

Sounder contributor

The San Juan County Conservation Land Bank held two events on Orcas Island the last weekend of June, focused on forest management at Crescent Beach Preserve near Eastsound.

On June 28, Orcas Island Preserve Steward Peter Guillozet, along with other staff, including Orcas Land Bank Commissioner Anne Marie Shanks, presented to a group of seven attendees gathered in person and via Zoom about proposed forestry work at Crescent Beach Preserve.

They outlined a forestry plan from the recent Stewardship and Management Plan, which proposes creating shaded fuel breaks to reduce wildfire risk and severity, thinning to enhance forest resilience to climate change, promoting standing and downed dead wood for habitat, managing priority weeds and planting understory species in thinned areas.

“Our goal [with the presentation and weekend event] was to address and integrate community concerns into project planning. A highlight of Friday’s meeting was the announcement of a $240,000 grant from the Washington Department of Natural Resources to remove small-diameter trees in areas with poor forest conditions due to excessive tree density,” Guillozet said.

On June 29, a site visit was organized, offering participants a firsthand look at the forest conditions discussed on Friday and illustrating the proposed action plan for the preserve. Eight participants attended the outing.

“Feedback from attendees at both events was largely positive. Most questions and comments focused on preserving the ecology of the area, potential trail adjustments resulting from the project and the timing and duration of any closures. The Land Bank invites continued input from the community regarding the future of the preserve,” Guillozet added.

The Land Bank will consider feedback as it collaborates with DNR on project planning and prepares a Request for Bids to be released in the fall or winter. Staff will host additional public meetings to present refined plans and gather further input.

Crescent Beach Preserve protects shorelines, intertidal zones, freshwater wetlands and a Douglas-fir forest. The beach is open to the public, with some shoreline leased to a small oyster farm. The area is known for wildlife sightings, including osprey, river otters, and various shorebirds and waterfowl. A short hiking trail leads from the beach. Stewardship of the area began in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, ensuring continued enjoyment for visitors.

In addition to Crescent Beach Preserve, Orcas Island hosts seven public preserves, including Turtle Back Preserve, Judd Cove Preserve, Coffelt Farm Preserve, Eastsound Waterfront Park, and others. A detailed map is available at